Almost six years ago, when Alan Margolies was asked to facilitate the Men Helping Men prostate cancer support program, he was happy to oblige. Alan, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville and a prostate cancer survivor himself, viewed it as an opportunity to give back to Ackerman Cancer Center and the people who helped him through his own cancer experience there.
“It’s frightening to find you have cancer. There’s an uneasiness – you’re moving into something unknown,” says Alan, husband to Jan, Ackerman Cancer Center’s longtime administrative coordinator. But Alan placed so much trust in Dr. Ackerman and the quality of the practice that he “never had a doubt he would be okay.”
“My experience with Ackerman Cancer Center, Dr. Ackerman, the other doctors, and everyone who works there was unbelievable,” he says, “and it’s not because of Jan or because I know Dr. and Mrs. Ackerman. Everybody that goes there feels the same way I do. The practice’s commitment to patient care is unrivaled. Everything – from the atmosphere, to the privacy, to the knowledge and compassion of the staff – they just do it right.”
He also believes support groups like Men Helping Men play an important role in the healing process and provide encouragement and hope to those living with cancer. “Everyone who has experienced prostate cancer has similar anxieties and concerns at one level or another. At our meetings, if someone mentions they are having a certain side effect, there’s almost always at least one person in the group who has also had it and can suggest something that might help.”
Talking with him, it is clear that Alan’s cancer experience has not dampened his enthusiasm or zest for life. He knows he was lucky because his cancer was found during a routine health exam. That discovery appears to have given him a new purpose. “I am constantly encouraging my lifelong friends – really all men – to get tested for prostate cancer because if it’s discovered early, you’re going to be okay.” Alan also urges women to participate in screenings for breast cancer and other gynecological cancers.
Men Helping Men is an opportunity for men who have experienced prostate cancer to come together to share information, gather knowledge from experts, or simply spend time with others who have traveled the same road. The group meets once a month on Monday evenings and is open to all prostate cancer patients in the Jacksonville area, from new diagnosis to survivorship. For more information, visit Ackerman Cancer Center’s Support Groups page.